Follow her from Jane-Finch to Harvard

Toni Morgan By Gerald V. Paul
Toni Morgan
By Gerald V. Paul

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts – Toni Morgan came out of Jane and Finch and graced Harvard, thanks to a crowd-funding bid that raised more than $95,000 to cover the fees for her masters of education and expenses.

Now this once-homeless woman is offering her shoulders for other students out of Jane-Finch to climb on in an invitation to experience Harvard.

“This is not a trip to tell you to go to Harvard. This is a trip to tell you that the most prestigious university in the world is not out of your reach,” Morgan told Toronto students on their visit to the campua.

She added, anything can represent Harvard to you. It can be a certain job. It can be a metaphor for something in your life.

As Tyme Boucaud-Coley from Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute, said, “I know there are a couple of kids who didn’t see themselves going to college and (now) they’re talking like, ‘I am going, I am applying and that’s that’.”

Her only regret about the visit was that not every student from her school made the trip, including several who she said “needed to be here,” because they are “going on paths that people assign for us.”

The students toured the campus, attended a youth conference and engaged in discussions about Black and education issues over four days.

Morgan shared how she was accepted at Harvard after returning to high school studies and then took almost 10 years to finish an undergraduate degree at Ryerson University.

She had been homeless, lived in shelters and had dropped out of high school but made it her mission to encourage youth not to feel self-doubt or to believe they can’t achieve their dreams just because they’ve had tough times.

It was from this desire to give a hand up that Morgan persuaded Toronto District School Board to send 44 students to visit her at the Harvard campus.

Jane-Finch has a low graduation rate and high numbers of immigrants and people on social assistance.